Boston, Massachusetts

Evaluating a Place-Based Intervention to Reduce Violent Crime

Boston Police Patch

Site LE Agency
Boston Police Department

Site Researcher
Anthony Braga, Ph.D., Northeastern University, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Site Focus
Gun Violence

SPI Strategy
Place-based policing, Offender-based policing

Site Cohort

Site Profile
Large urban area of 48.28 sq. miles with a population of 624,222

Project Overview

The Boston SPI tested a new method for reducing gun violence in small geographic areas (micro–hot spots) that exhibited historically (over several decades) high crime rates, and evaluated the impacts of the Safe Street Team (SST) strategy. The SSTs applied problem-oriented and community-policing strategies to identify and address recurring problems in target areas (primarily disadvantaged, minority neighborhoods). The Boston SPI team conducted a quasi-experimental evaluation comparing the treated target areas to a statistically matched group of similar, non-treatment areas. The research results indicated a significant decrease in violent crimes in the treated micro–hot spots.

Data Highlight

  • From 2004 to 2006, Boston experienced a 9 percent increase in violent crime and a 23 percent increase in homicides.
  • In 2006, crime micro–hot spots represented only 6 percent of street geography, but 23 percent of violent crime in Boston.
  • Nearly 400 distinct problem-solving activities were implemented by Safe Street Team officers in the 13 targeted areas.
  • Findings revealed:
    • 17 percent reduction in violent crime
    • 15 percent reduction in aggravated assaults
    • 19 percent reduction in robberies